From the Mouths of Sirens by Abigail Hair

Book Blurb:

Win the Tournament. Kill the Prince. Take the Crown.

Since childhood, Princess Saoirse has trained for the sole purpose of being chosen for the Tournament, a gladiator-style competition in which four enemy nations compete for the right to rule. An angel-like people known as the Aura have won the Tournament for a century, enacting exploitative treaties and ruling the continent with a merciless grip. If Saoirse survives the three infamous trials, she will win the Crown of Revelore and overthrow the nation responsible for her mother’s death.

But when Saoirse is denied entry into the Tournament by the Mer king, she makes a bargain with an imprisoned sea witch. In exchange for entrance into the competition, Saoirse agrees to kill the Auran prince and bring back the witch’s stolen dagger. But while fighting for her life in the arena, the last thing Saoirse expects to do is fall for her greatest enemy, the arrogant Prince Rook.

When Rook and Saoirse uncover the sinister secrets of their ancestors, they realize the animosity between their people is rooted in long-forgotten lore. What once was a competition for the Crown evolves into a perilous ancient game in which Saoirse and Rook are both pawns. As twisted truths are revealed and myths become real, Saoirse must decide if she should kill the man she is falling for and avenge her people, or spare his life and face the wrath of the Titans.

Fans of THE CRUEL PRINCE, THE HUNGER GAMES, and THE LITTLE MERMAID will enjoy this first installment in a compelling new YA fantasy series.

Erin’s Review:

Little Mermaid meets Romeo and Juliet competing for the Goblet of Fire in the Hunger Games.

From the Mouths of Sirens is definitely an attention-grabbing debut with a very distinct voice from author Abigail Hair that makes it stand out from others in the YA Fantasy genre, while still hitting familiar tropes that are well-loved by readers. It is the first book in a series (which I did not realize when I first started reading it), and ends with a pretty earth-shattering cliffhanger, so be prepared!

The main characters—Saoirse and Rook—were the highlight of the story for me. While they had good chemistry in the beginning, I felt more drawn to them individually than as a couple, which I think is a testament to the author’s craft. It feels rare to have a story where the romance is rather central to the plot, and yet I would love the characters even if they don’t end up together! They are truly intriguing and inspiring individuals all on their own, and I look forward to seeing them become a power couple in the future. Additionally, all of the characters felt authentic, like real people. Saorise’s father, although he is only present in the first little bit of the book, made a great impression! I loved the strong dad vibes, how he is harsh and protective, but still humble and loving.

The dialogue was one of the strong suits of the book for me. Abigail’s writing style really lends itself toward believable and tense conversations that are very genuine. I almost wish we had gotten to experience more conversations between the characters, especially between Rook and Saoirse.

The story is a slower pace than is typical for YA, but the space was filled with rich descriptions and history that really built the world up in a very visual and lived in way. It feels like a fairytale and classic fantasy rolled into one, an ancient world made new. 

Abigail gives us a very clear picture of the world at large, as well of each individual setting, carefully crafting even the moments of action so you can see it like a movie. However, I did speed-read through a bit of it because I became more concerned with finding out what would happen than what things looked like the further I got into the story.

The slow pacing definitely surprised me a bit, as the main characters don’t meet until about a third through the book, and the tournament didn’t start until halfway. If I had known, I probably wouldn’t have felt so impatient during the first half instead of constantly wondering when we would get to the “main story”.

All in all, I give Abigail Hair’s From the Mouths of Sirens four stars for captivating world-building, unique and intriguing characters, and a story that really turns the Little Mermaid into something completely new and fresh, paying homage to the original fairytale in a way that is sure to thrill modern audiences.


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